We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our founder Frank Gerson.
The Freestore began in 1971. Frank was working at the city’s incinerator and saw usable household items being discarded.
“Having something in front of you that is perfectly usable, I couldn’t bring myself to burn it,” Frank shared with us.
Frank began collecting those items and distributing them to disadvantaged families out of his one bedroom apartment on Lyons Street in Clifton Heights. Gerson named his practice the Free Store. He incorporated it as a public charity, quit his job, and opened for business in his apartment building’s attic. When customers began asking for food, Frank connected with Steve Gibbs, who went on to become CEO of the Freestore Foodbank.
In 1979, the Free Store became a founding member of Feeding America, evolving into the Freestore Foodbank. Although Frank went on to pursue other endeavors, he still regularly helped out at the Freestore, as recently as last month. We are endlessly grateful for Frank’s commitment to helping others.
Our thoughts are with Frank’s wife, family and friends at this difficult time.